20 of 2020: Christel regrets not clearing her desk just before corona

Christel Moons
18 December 2020 |

We are nearing the end of this strange and special year, 2020. Time to reflect on the status quo. 20 people with links to Ghent University were selected at random. They tell us what 2020 meant to them, what they will carry over to next year and above all: what they hope for in 2021.

Christel Moons is a professor of applied ethology and animal welfare. During the first lockdown she didn’t really have time for a new hobby, but in between she’s learned how to install tile skirting boards. “It’s not easy. But I am rather proud that I can do it now.” (laughs)

How was 2020 for you?

“Since March, it feels like I have had to constantly flip flop between the accelerator and the brakes, both professionally and personally. You want to move forward, but you have to constantly switch. One minute you’re teaching a crowded auditorium, the next, students are sitting at home and I’m in a ghost-like classroom. Fortunately not everything was negative; indeed I think it has also been very educational. We have experienced a digital learning curve like never before. In my personal life, I also had to constantly switch. I had several weekends planned with the motorcycle club this year, but they ended up always having to be rescheduled. Hopefully, it will be for next year.”

What have you achieved this year?

“I think we have achieved a lot with our team, but not as much as we had hoped. One of my PhD students was in the final stages of her research on the detection of seizures in humans by dogs. For that research, she worked at UZ Gent, but unfortunately, it was closed. Fortunately, we came up with a new idea and she was able to start with a new subject: how people are dealing with the corona measures and how pets are helping with that.”


Last year was like no other, but it was also filled with warmth. We supported each other and shared in each other’s ups and downs. Now this is your chance to thank everyone who was there for you. Not in the usual way, but with a virtual projection of your best wishes onto the Book Tower.

Who is the most impressive person at Ghent University for you?

“It’s not just one person … for me, the DIDI working group is team of the year. That’s the digital working group at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine. The team helped transform our teaching activities and actively supported us throughout the entire process. Without them it would not have been possible, they deserve huge praise for their work.” What achievement are you most proud of? “I am quite proud of the fact that this year I have taken steps towards a better work-life balance. I am 43-years-old and would like to do this job until my retirement, but I’ve had signs from my body that a break is needed every now and then. Sometimes you just need to completely get away from everything. I realize that now. The question remains, of course, whether I will be able to maintain this balance once everything returns to “normal”. In any case, I'm going to try.”

What do you hope for 2021?

“Stop all animal cruelty, I know that sounds a little naive (laughs)? Leaving aside the pandemic for a moment: less polarization in society. I am genuinely concerned about that. When it comes to the corona crisis, I hope that we can quickly go back to our normal life. And that I can see different parts of the world again next year, with or without a motorcycle.”

Suppose you could go back to January 1, 2020. What would you do?

“Tidy up my desk (laughs)! It is often full of meeting notes, scientific articles and magazines. I usually do that in early January, but this year I decided to postpone it, not knowing we would be in lockdown a few months later. Now it really is a bit chaotic. If only I had known (laughs). No, seriously. I wouldn’t change much about what I did then. What has come would have come anyway. Maybe I would have enjoyed more trips when I still could. And I would go to the hairdresser. That is really too long ago now.”

What do you wish other people at Ghent University in 2021?

“You can’t help but wish others good health this year. In addition, I wish all a healthy dose of resilience, because we all need that right now. Stay positive, it will be fine.”


20 people with links to Ghent University were selected at random. They tell us what 2020 meant to them, what they will carry over to next year and above all: what they hope for in 2021.

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